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Hands Across The Water A Benefit For The Children Of The Tsunami
Produced by Andrea Zonn & John Cutlife

Review By Steven Stone
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CD Number: Compass Records 74411-2 


  "It's an ill wind that blows no one any good." Shakespeare wrote that. Even the most recent international natural disaster, the tsunami in Indonesia, has had a few beneficial side effects. The Hands Across the Water CD counts as one of them.

Producers Andrea Zonn and John Cutliffe created Hands Across the Water as a vehicle whereby they could donate more money than they could gather on their own. They enlisted a remarkably talented and diverse group of American roots and Celtic musicians including Darrell Scott, Muireann Nic mahlaoibh, Jim Lauderdale, Maura O'Connell, The Duhks, Bryan Sutton, Jon Randall, Martin O'Connor, Alison Brown, Tim O'Brien, Lunasa, Sharon Shannon, Jackson Browne, Solas, Mindy Smith, John Prine, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Bonnie Raitt, Blue Merle, Altan, Vince Gill, Paul Brady, Rodney Crowell, John Jorgenson, Stuart Duncan, John Cowen, Jerry Douglas, and Andrea Zonn. They used 27 different studios, 29 recording engineers, and over 100 musicians from Nashville, USA, to Sydney, Australia. Producer John Cutliffe admits to driving over 10,000 miles and downloading gigabites of session tracks and mixes. Contributing artists chose their own tracks and then let Zonn and Cutliffe mold them by adding additional collaborators.

With all the remarkably diverse sources, the final results have a far more focused quality than you would imagine. Many artists found themselves working in genres outside their usual formats, such as Vince Gill's English-language version of the traditional Irish song "Let's Heal" or Jackson Browne's rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow." Others such as Beth Nielsen Chapman's rendition of "Be Still My Soul" are classic examples of an artist working in their own particular genre. The Johnny Cash classic "40 Shades of Green" featuring Paul Brady and Rodney Crowell's vocals typifies the successful synthesis of Celtic and Country into a unique hybrid musical form.

Given the necessity of intercontinental cut and paste recording to make this project happen, the sound quality on A Benefit for the Children of the Tsunami is nothing short of miraculous. As little as five years ago recording engineers lacked the tools to be able to make and send sound files across continents. Now not only can tracks travel around the world, but they can do so with no sonic degradation. Editor and mixer Erick Jaskowiak and Compass Sound Studio certainly delivered a world-class final mix with all the warmth and natural ambience you could want from a CD. Remarkable.

Buy this CD. Trust me, not only will you be contributing to a good cause, but you'll acquire a wonderful CD. That's what I call a win-win proposition.




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